Greetings fellow WikiTreers!

Welcome to the December 2015 edition of News from the Tree, our monthly report on new features and changes around the site, notes on community leaders, tips, etc.

What’s New?

Connection Combat: What’s your connection?

We’re excited to announce that Kurt Vonnegut was the winning profile in last month’s Connection Combat.

Each time there is a new winner they are featured as one of our special Connection Finders.  Check your connection with Kurt Vonnegut here!

You can also still check your connection with the previous month’s winner, Lisa Kudrow.

Free-Space Profile Tags

How we use tags — both in the G2G forum and all around WikiTree — continues to evolve and improve. As some of you know, we’re now in the middle of implementing a plan to use them to help connect Wiki Genealogists who are interested in the same topics.

Recently the forms for adding free-space profiles and creating free-space projects got face lifts.

More significantly, for example, check out the free-space project page for the Michel Richard Interest Group. Note how the “RICHARD” and “ACADIA” tags are highlighted.








If you look under the “Collaboration” section in the right column you’ll now see a button for posting here in G2G. This takes you to the Ask-a-Question form with the proper WikiTree ID and tags automatically filled-in. Posting means all these things happen:

  • The G2G question will appear on the Michel Richard Interest Group project page.
  • Members on the Trusted List of the project page will see the G2G question in their activity feeds.
  • Members following the surname Richard or the tag Acadia will see the G2G question in their daily e-mail update.
  • The Richard and Acadia genealogy index pages will link to the G2G question. (We’ll be making better use of genealogy index pages for non-surnames soon.)

Who’s New?

We’re delighted that Liz Shifflett has come out of “retirement” to resume her role as a WikiTree Leader.  She’s currently leading or co-leading our Louisiana Families and Magna Carta projects.

We also have a blog feature called “Meet Our Members” where you can get to know some of our members a little better in their featured posts.  You can find all our Member feature posts here and learn more about someone who might be new to you!

Mentor Tips

  • If you’ve taken a DNA test for genealogy don’t forget to indicate it here. WikiTree will automatically connect it to profiles where it can be used by advanced genetic genealogists for confirming relationships.
  • Our community makes big decisions together, such as what sort of relationship indicators would be most appropriate on profiles or how we can use tags more efficiently on profiles and free-space pages to help community members find others with similar interests or surnames. Follow the G2G tag “announcements” to make sure you hear about them.
  • Have you noticed the great resources being linked in location categories? See here to learn more.
  • Remember Point II of our Honor Code: We care about accuracy. We’re always aiming to improve upon our worldwide family tree and fix mistakes.

Community Accomplishments

Top 10 contributors for last month:

WikiTree Club 1000 November 2015

  1. Catherine V (12677 edits in November)
  2. Guy Constantineau (8556)
  3. Kirsty Ward (7171)
  4. Vincent Piazza (6238)
  5. Bree Ogle (5497)
  6. Magnus Sälgö (5486)
  7. Drew Teague (5257)
  8. Wayne Burnie (4473)
  9. Susan Tye (4337)
  10. Philip Smith (4257)

Super Star recipients (recognized by a Leader for extraordinary contributions that go far beyond what is normally seen on WikiTree):

Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication: Gail (Baker) WilliamsLudwig KraayenbrinkRobert KenistonDave RutherfordMagnus SälgöLaurie CruthersScott Fulkerson and Jacqueline Girouard!

Project Updates

Family History Photo of the Week Nominee

Check out the latest in our ever-expanding projects!

We’re also starting a project called Adoption Angels.

WikiTree Adoption Angels are volunteers who have taken on the mission of helping adoptees look for and connect with their biological families. With our global family tree and our DNA features, WikiTree can be an invaluable asset for assisting adoptees in their search.

Angels can also help adoptees get settled into WikiTree. Even how to set up their own profile can be difficult! Angels can help smooth the way.

This is a brand new project so if you’d like to get in on it and help grow it from its beginnings please contact project Leader, Eowyn Langholf.

New Member Comments

When a Guest or Family Member volunteers to become a full contributing Wiki Genealogist we ask them to leave a comment telling a little about how and/or why they’d like to volunteer to grow our shared tree. We get some really great responses.  Comments such as:

  • “My hope is that I can contribute positively to the mission of building a tree we can trust. I am not a professional genealogist, and I enjoy working with those who are. Over time, I have accumulated a family DNA collection. It includes autosomal tests for my husband, myself, our 3 daughters, & 3 grandchildren. 2 son-in-laws, parents of one son-in-law, one grandson-in-law, my husband’s half-sister, my mother’s sister, her husband, & their 2 children, a paternal first cousin & 3 paternal first cousins once removed; it also includes Y-DNA testing for my husband & my paternal first cousin, plus full mtDNA tests for my husband & me. I’m still learning about what all of that data tells us. Good thing I’m retired & interested in the subject.” - Barb
  • “I love researching my family name, something I just can’t get bored of. I’m a fun loving person, who enjoy life to the fullest. My family is really important to me and I always find it interesting doing research about my family surname and If I get this opportunity to be apart of your community is fantastic! I would like to share my family history and contribute my efforts to continue connecting families and make this world one happy family. It feels amazing knowing there are people with the same interests as you. Being apart of your community would really give me that confidence to continue this amazing journey so far.” - Heinrich
  • “I have been researching genealogy since 1960. Getting sources for my genealogy is at the very heart of prudence for any ancestor or descendant. Moreover, giving credit for sources are important and following copy write is paramount to me. Lastly, I am a willing person who has helped others with their ancestors.” - Jan
  • “Open Source humanity with respect for each for the benefit of all. There are some projects on earth that could be super important for our future. This is one of those, in as much as, that it can show how we are all connected. Our descendants could have all this information to find out about a little bit of themselves in someone else. It also shows that in the end – border, nations, fences are just barriers that we create out of fear of the unknown. ” - Carlos
  • “Recently I’ve been connecting with cousins on social media and trying to build a family tree and, coincidentally, have some of my relatives. So what I’d like to do now is co-ordinate all our disparate efforts to not only combine our individual findings but also to reach out more globally and to see if our branch of the family – and extended families – can interconnect with other families.” - James

Anyone can view the latest comments on the Volunteer Feed.

If you have a few minutes to spare they are fun to read through and a great way to find people with interests similar to your own or researching the same surnames/locations. When you see a comment that resonates for you, click the thank-you link or post a comment to make them feel welcome to WikiTree.

Don’t Miss These!

Sourcerer’s Challenge:   Far too many profiles on WikiTree don’t have any sources. This challenge is about correcting that with census data, BMD records/index references, family bible references, military documents, land documents, wills, etc.

Each month we’ll post in G2G to start up the month’s challenge. You come and post the profile you’ve added source(s) to (at least the profile number/name, if not a link to it) as well as what sources you added. At the end of the month we tally for a winner.

We are now actively in our December Challenge, which will run through December 31.  To participate, go to this G2G post.

To see the stats from November’s contest, go here.

Collaborative Profile of the Week:  WikiTree is all about collaboration and every week many members come together to work on the Collaborative Profile of the Week. Every Monday a profile is selected. It’s usually a profile from one of our current projects that is in desperate need of some TLC.

Interested members can then chip in to help make the profile as great as it can be.

Check out last week’s wonderful results on the Ferdinandus Bol, or join in on this week’s efforts with Dr. Pierre Louis Chastain.

Follow the tag “profile_of_the_week” in G2G if you don’t want to miss these.

Weekend Chat:  Each Friday we start a Weekend Chat  post in G2G. All members are invited  and encouraged to come and post, whether it’s to introduce themselves, share what they’ve been working on, talk about the weather or post tips and suggestions.  This is a great way to get to know some of the awesome members of our community!

Follow the tag “weekend_chat” if you don’t want to miss out on the fun.

Thanks for all you do WikiTreers. You’re the best.

The WikiTree Team and Leaders

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Greetings fellow WikiTreers!

Welcome to the April 2015 edition of News from the Tree, our monthly report on new features and changes around the site, notes on community leaders, tips, etc.

What’s New?

Family History Photo of the Week Winner Evangeline Dounda

10 Million Profiles – Here We Come!

At just over 9,700,000 so far, we’re quickly approaching 10 million profiles.   We can’t thank you enough for all your hard work and efforts to grow our worldwide family tree. One of our Leaders, Peter Roberts, started a fun thread in our G2G forum for folks to guess when we’ll hit this amazing milestone.  Chime in with your guess and see how close you can get.

The Global Family Reunion

The Global Family Reunion (GFR) is only 38 days away!  Will you be attending? Tickets are available here.  We’ll be there so stop by our tent and say hello!  If you’d like to spend an hour or two volunteering we’d love to have your help.  You can contact for more details.

The GFR Team also just launched the SURNAME SHOWDOWN to Fight Alzheimer’s. It’s a family-friendly fundraiser where teams with the same last name compete to raise as much money as possible – and win prizes that will be awarded at GFR!  Check out the video.

If you want to participate head over the fundraiser page to create/support a team for your family last name now!

New Enhancements to Descendant Pages

We released a round of improvements to descendant pages. In addition to some minor design differences, we added:

  • Uncertain father or mother indicators where appropriate.
  • Confirmed with DNA indicators where appropriate.
  • More complete names for everyone on the page.
  • Marriage dates.
  • Spouse’s birth and death dates.
  • Hover-over titles.

Here’s an example: Descendants of George Arbuthnot Sr.

Here’s an example with some DNA indicators: Descendants of Thomas Roberts.

New Form for Uploading Images

We just made a small improvement live. When you upload an image, you can now include a title, location, date, and image type (photo vs. source). For example, see

Before this, you could only add the location and date after upload. It took longer, and as was suggested here in G2G, this meant that many people didn’t add this important information.

Moreover, there is a special field for the source of the photo. You’re asked to include whether you took the photo or scanned it from a family collection, etc. If you got the image from somewhere else on the web, you’re asked to include the URL and an explanation of why it isn’t copyrighted by someone else.

The source explanation is posted as a comment on the image page.

Finally  you are now warned if you are uploading an image that already exists on WikiTree. This is significant because it saves WikiTree server space (and money) to not have duplicates. It also helps connect profiles when one image is tagged for multiple people.

Who’s New?

We’re excited to announce three new Leaders this month:

Doug Straiton has been a WikiTreer since May of 2014.  He has a keen interest in genealogy and in history in general.  Born in Scotland and having Scottish ancestors it makes sense that Doug would head up the Scots in Foreign Service Project which is looking to fill gaps in our understanding of those Scots that fought abroad until about 1700 and also the Scots Abroad Project that is looking to find the migration patterns of our Scottish ancestors before the American, and later, migrations.

Lena Svensson joined WikiTree just 10 days after Doug did in May of last year.  She grew up in Hylte municipality in the county of Halland and the province of Småland, Sweden. Lena is active in many of our projects including European Aristocrats, Categorization, Global Community Outreach and Profile Improvement.  She is the Project Leader for one of our brand new projects, the Swedish Project.

Guy Constantineau has been a member since December 2012 and he is everywhere on WikiTree!  He is a Greeter, a Mentor, an Ambassador and a Ranger as well as super friendly and helpful in our G2G forum.  If you reach the Club 100 or Club 1000 badge during a month, don’t be surprised if you get a congratulations message from him on your profile page.  Guy excels at making our members feel welcome and appreciated.

Mentor Tips

  • Family History Photo of the Week Winner William Wills

    Have you run up against a brick wall in your family? Well WikiTree has a category for that!  Family Brick Wall.  For information on adding categories to your brick wall profiles, or any other profile, check out the using categories page.

  • Speaking of categories, when a category or subcategory is named improperly and has to be changed, a whole new one must be created, and all of the content from the original entry has to be redirected to the new page. This is especially important for categories that include many subcategories and/or profiles, such as cemeteries. If your project makes extensive use of categories and new ones are needed, please check with a project leader or coordinator to review the setup procedures. For example, the setup for U.S. cemetery categories is outlined on all of the Global Cemetery Project’s state-level project pages pages, such as the one for Texas.  If you’re unsure of how to set up a category, you can also post in the G2G forum and tag it “categorization” to get help from the Category Project.
  • If your research includes anyone that might be historically significant check carefully for duplicates in any project that might contain them. For example European Aristocracy has almost all Kings and Queens of Europe and their families, all US presidents and Mayflower passengers are already here.  Please check with the relevant Project for naming conventions and other information. Go to your Find drop down menu, then Projects.


Project Updates

Do you have Shaws on your tree? The Shaw Name Study is looking to add every Shaw on WikiTree to the Category:Shaw Name Study. Have Shaws? Add them!

The One Name Study Project passed a great milestone this week as well.  There are now over 200 One Name Studies on WikiTree!  214 as of today to be exact.  The purpose of this project is to provide you with a potentially valuable resource that will help you coordinate with other WikiTree members who are researching the same surname and to provide a space for collaboration. See the one name studies page for the full list of surname studies.

Several new Projects and sub-projects have kicked off recently.  Here are a few of them:

The Hatfields and McCoys
Chilean Roots
Mexican Roots
Puerto Rican Roots
The Great War 1914-1918
United Empire Loyalist

You can view all the Current Projects here.

Community Accomplishments

Top 10 contributors for last month:

WikiTree Club 1000 March 2015

Super Star recipients (recognized by a Leader for extraordinary contributions that go far beyond what is normally seen on WikiTree):

Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication: Ronel Olivier and Susanna de Bruyn!

New Member Comments

Family History Photo of the Week Winner Anna Kreetta Heikintytèar èOstergêard

When a guest volunteers to become a full member we ask them to leave a comment telling a little about how and/or why they’d like to volunteer with WikiTree.  We get some really great responses.  Comments such as:

  •  ”I’ve been doing lay genealogical research into my family’s past for over 20-years. I am excited by all the modern tools available to the private “amateur” genealogist.” - Jason
  • “Greetings to my fellow researchers: I am excited to help others fill in all those blank spaces with the names of real people who lived and died and prepare a way for all of us. I am also looking forward to filling in as many names that you have to share with me. I cannot believe how many different cultures are a part of my history. I come from seven different Native American tribes, English, French-Canadian, German, Swedish, et. al. Some direct line ancestors include Pocahontas from Jamestown, Virginia, Peregrine White and the Mayflower, those who fought in the Revolutionary War, both sides of the Civil War and some horse thieves along the way and a couple of really bad people. Together they make up the reality of my progenitors. I’m looking forward to finding our common ancestors.” - John
  • “I love family history and it is my passion. I am a mother and a grandmother who wants to leave a complete family history for them. It is one of life’s puzzles. It has brought new people into my life and I have been a part of bringing families together who have never met.” - Sharon
  • “I am extremely interested in the history of the people, places & events of this wonderful planet. I would very much like to see how we all fit together, connecting or crossing paths along the way. ” - Jason

Anyone can view these comments on the Volunteer Feed.

If you have a few minutes to spare they are fun to read through and a great way to find people with interests similar to your own or researching the same surnames/locations. When you see a comment that resonates for you, click the thank-you link or post a comment to make them feel welcome to WikiTree.

Thanks for all you do WikiTreers. You’re the best.

The WikiTree Team and Leaders

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by Eowyn

What’s one of the most overlooked and underutilized resources available for genealogy research?

Your living family members.  Bug them! They’re one of the best resources you have. Start with your parents or grandparents. Talk to them and then branch out – include your cousins, aunts, uncles. Try to steer away from yes/no questions and ask open-ended ones so you can collect not just names and dates but stories as well. Not only can this help you in researching your ancestors from the past but you’ll be able to compile stories about your family in the present.

Here are 50 questions to get you started.  Just remember, the more you ask, the more you’ll know and you’ll be better able to personalize your interviews.

1.  What’s your full name? Do you know why your parents gave you that name?

2. When and where were you born?

3. What was your first home like? What other places have you lived?

4. Do you attend a church? What church did your parents/grandparents attend?

5. What are the full names of your brothers and sisters?

6. What were your favorite toys?

7. Where did you attend grade school/high school? What were your schools like?

8. What were your favorite/least favorite subjects in school and why?

9. What activities/sports did you participate in?

10. What was your first job?

11. How did you decide on a career?

12. If you served in the military, when and where did you serve? What was your rank? Did you have to go to war?

13.  How old were you when you started dating?  Do you remember your first date?

14. How did you meet your spouse(s)?

15. How long did you know them before you get married? Describe the proposal.

16. Describe your wedding ceremony.  Who was there?  Who were the best man/maid of honor?

17. Did you have a honeymoon? Where did you go?

18. How long have you been/were you married? How would you describe your spouse?

19.  What advice would you give to your child/grandchild that is about to get married?

20. How many children did you have all together? What are their names, dates and birth places?

21. Why did you pick the names that you did?

22. What did you find the most difficult aspect of being a parent?

23. What would you describe as the best reward of being a parent?

24. Where did your spouse’s parents live?

25. When and where did your parents die? What do you remember about it? Where are they buried?

26. What do you remember hearing your grandparents describe about their lives?

27. Do you remember anything about your great-grandparents? If so, what?

28. Did you have any childhood diseases?

29. Has anyone in the family been the victim of a crime or convicted of one? If so, can you share the story?

30. Have you ever had surgery? For what?

31. How is the world different now then from when you were growing up?

32. How would you describe yourself politically? Liberal? Conservative? Why?

33. Have you ever been mentioned in a newspaper?

34. What wars have been fought during your lifetime? How did they affect you?

35. How would you describe your sense of humor?

36. What are some of your favorite hobbies? How did you get involved with them?

37. What organizations or groups have you belonged to?

38. What’s the most memorable moment of your life?

39.What’s something you always wanted to try but haven’t yet?

40.What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited and why?

41. Who are some of your heroes?

42. What did you do with your first paycheck?

43. What’s your favorite holiday and why? What traditions do you have?

44. What would you say have been some of the best inventions/advances you’ve seen in your lifetime?

45. Have you had pets in your life? What were they like? Favorites?

46. Who have been your closest friends through the years?

47. What makes your family unique?

48. What do you fear most in regards to future generations?

49. Do you have a life philosophy to pass on to your descendants?

50. What haven’t we talked about that you’d like to share?

Bonus for fun:

What or who is your favorite:

  • Animal?
  • Author?
  • Book?
  • Candy?
  • Car?
  • Color?
  • Dessert?
  • Flower?
  • Fruit?
  • Game?
  • Holiday?
  • Meal?
  • Movie?
  • Season?
  • Song?
  • Sport?
  • Vegetable?
  • Word?
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by Bree Ogle

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Greetings fellow WikiTreers!

Welcome to the June 2014 edition of News from the Tree, our monthly report on new features and changes around the site, notes on community leaders, tips, etc.

What’s New?

“100 Degrees of AJ” Google+ Video Hangout

Our Google+ Hangout with author A.J. Jacobs is tonight! 24 June 2014 at 7pm EST.

You can tune in and watch it live on Google+ or live on YouTube. If you miss it live, you can view it any time after it takes place through those same links.  For more details about AJ and our Hangout you can read our invitation post.

Have you discovered how you are related to AJ yet? More than two thirds of WikiTree profiles are connected to him, by marriage if not blood. There’s a good chance you’re connected.

We also just released an added feature to the “100 Degrees of AJ” Connection Finder: a visualization of the generational path. For example, see this connection to Albert Einstein and then click the button that says “more: show generational path.”

You can always access your own connection by clicking the menu in the upper-right from your profile, the one that starts with your WikiTree ID. From there select “Connection to AJ”.

Global Cemeteries Project

This month we launched our Global Cemeteries Project.

In genealogical terms, the Global Cemeteries Project is a direct descendant of the thousands of cemeteries and millions of deceased ancestors already categorized on WikiTree. Back in March of 2014, Paul Bech initiated a series of projects relating to his home country of Australia, one being the Australian Cemeteries Project.

Paul’s project followed the original intent of cemetery categorizations, which is to: 1) document their locations; and, 2) place the profiles of our deceased ancestors with known burial information into the properly categorized cemeteries in which they were interred. However, he immediately realized that this work could be expanded to fulfill another purpose.

WikiTree is filled with profiles for people with unknown or unconfirmed birth and death dates, and our cemeteries are filled with people who have that exact information neatly engraved on their tombstones! Put the two together and you’ve got the makings for an ace project!

As more people have begun to show interest in this area, particularly within the United States and Canada, we now seek to expand Paul’s original idea to an international level, but the purposes of this project will remain true to its roots. More so than any other resource, cemeteries are the one true “common ground” for genealogical researchers all over the world.

Advantages of Working with a One World Tree

One of our wonderful WikiTreers, Kitty (Munson) Cooper, wrote an excellent blog post recently about the advantages of working with a one world tree.  In it, she discusses WikiTree, Family Search and Geni.  She includes a handy side-by-side chart that compares the important features of each.  She also offers some advantages and disadvantages of a one world tree.  What do you think? View Kitty’s full post here.

 Who’s New?

We were delighted to welcome three new WikiTree Leaders this month!

Chet Snow: Chet joined WikiTree in December 2013 and is currently active in our New Netherlands and Mayflower Projects.  Late last year he was “bitten by the genealogical bug” and discovered WikiTree where our accessibility and community ethics appealed to him. He is bilingual in French and is happy to assist WikiTreers seeking short translations from that language too.

Paula Johnson: Paula is one of our wonderful, patient Mentors.  She joined WikiTree in July 2013 and is very active in several projects, including the Magna Carta and Early Pennsylvania Settlers projects.  She is also an Integrator and an Arborist. Paula has also been a big help with our LDS Pioneers project when it comes to sorting out polygamist families. Not an easy task!

Tom Shaw: Tom’s been with WikiTree since May 2012, but only recently began seriously sharing his time and information here. He looks forward to maintaining a high level of activity and interaction with other WikiTree members. Tom has also been an integral part of creating WikiTree’s Global Cemeteries Project!

New Member Comments

When a guest volunteers to become a full member we ask them to leave a comment telling a little about how and/or why they’d like to volunteer with WikiTree.  We get some really great responses!  Comments such as:

  • “It’s important to know where we all came from. We are living lives against great odds. Let’s honor how we got here.”
  • “I have no idea what to do. I am very new at this. I just want to learn more about my family and where I come from. I have this drive to find out more. It is hard to explain. It is like I need my past family to complete my current family.”
  • “Retired U.S. Air Force officer. Interested in memorializing veterans of all U.S. wars, but my special interest is remembering our Civil War veterans and telling their forgotten stories.”
  • “I am the keeper of my family history and wish to be able to provide this information for others in my family without them having them to pay a commercial rate for this information.”
  • “After spending my childhood summers being dragged around Nova Scotia taking pictures of grave stones, interviewing ( on cassette tape) family elders, and spending hours exploring the public archives, I am completely addicted to genealogy and history.”
  • “Hey! I am a family man. A pastor. A fairly normal fellow.”
  • “I believe we all need to know how we are connected as this helps make us feel valuable to ourselves, and others. Being able to do this in a respectful, honest and helpful way builds our self-worth and increases the joy we find from belonging.”

Anyone can view these comments. If you have a few minutes to spare they are fun to read through and a great way to find people with interests similar to your own or researching the same surnames/locations. You can also click a link to thank them or even leave a comment to make them feel welcome to WikiTree!

Community Accomplishments

Top 10 contributors for May 2014:

WikiTree Club 1000 May 2014

  1. Vincent Piazza (14,456 edits in May)
  2. Michelle Brooks (9604)
  3. Bob Tonsmeire (7393)
  4. Susan Tye (5673)
  5. Paula Ruehling (5310)
  6. Kirsty Ward (4746)
  7. Brian Ward (4596)
  8. Mary Pitcher (4510)
  9. Terry Wright (4192)
  10. C V (4160)

Super Star recipients (recognized by a Leader for extraordinary contributions that go far beyond what is normally seen on WikiTree):

Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication ~ Matt Pryber, Steven Mix, Sally Stovall, Cynthia Billups, Michelle Brooks, Michelle McQueen, Carroll Woods and Lana H.

You Rock!

We just passed 7,500,000 profiles – 8,000,000 here we come! We have to say thank you to all of our fantastic members for all the hard work and dedication you put in contributing to growing our worldwide family tree. You rock!

The WikiTree Team and Leaders

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